Book Spotlight: From Mason to Minister by Neil Cullan McKinlay
An adventurous, captivating and poetic memoir of the author’s courageous and spiritual journey—from Scotland to Canada to Australia—in his quest to “find the Truth and know the living God.”
Neither an apologetic nor a polemic, he corrects much misinterpretation and misunderstanding of Freemasonry. We learn how inspiration from Masonic teachings about Solomon’s Temple, the arch, and keystone led him to a deep study of the revelation from the Bible of the “stone the builders rejected” which is Christ.
Readers will be uplifted, inspired, and delighted as they follow along with him in the discovery of his calling to become a minister.
Read an Excerpt!
Not everyone is converted to Christianity the same way as the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Saul, of course, became Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ. Indeed some children grow up in Christian homes never knowing the moment of their conversion, knowing only that they have always loved Jesus and have always trusted in Him alone for salvation. In some ways I envy those Christians.
My own conversion was climactic. Like a stuck needle on an old broken record, I was trying to come to grips with Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). I thought this exclusivity was very arrogant. I remember sitting in my armchair contemplating these words, and wondering who this Jesus thought He was! The “stone the builders rejected” of the Bible (and of the Chapter of the Royal Arch teaching) was about to really sink into and permanently lodge in my heart.
My brother Fearghas’ painting of the spaceman lost in space became how I felt. He had become detached from the mother ship – I was lost in space. The millions of stars were twinkling in the black night sky. I was surrounded by people at work and had my family at home. I played soccer. I had a busy social life. I attended Masonic meetings, but like the drifting spaceman, I began to feel so lonely and detached in the universe. Still, in my heart I pondered the things I had learned about God as I sat in my armchair.
I began to call out to God audibly: “I want to know You!” I had come to the stage in my philosophical travels of being unable to prove to myself whether I was awake or dreaming. It’s a terribly terrifying place to be, not knowing if I was dreaming that reality is real, or worse, whether I was part of someone else’s dream! How does anyone know if they really exist? How are we to measure reality? Perhaps I was really in a coma lying on a hospital bed somewhere.
Is truth a subjective thing? If it is, then, am I the measure of reality? Am I the centre of the universe? Does the universe cabalistically emanate from me as its centre? (I had delved into cabalism as I fossicked* around in the dusty tomes of Masonic literature in Masonic libraries.)
For there to be objective truth there would need to be a Supreme Being Who had revealed His will to man. Otherwise one man’s opinion is as valid as any other man’s contradiction.
I believed in a Supreme Being, but who was He? I continued to cry out to Him. And as I did so, I listened in my heart for the answer. But all that I could hear was Jesus saying I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. I would reply to Him, “Get out of my way. I am looking for God!” And again I would cry out to God. And again Jesus would say, No one comes to the Father except through Me. Around and around we would go.
Sitting alone in that armchair I became, in my mind, the spaceman. The severed umbilical cord slowly flapped in the solar wind. The stars in the dark sky continued silently blinking. I began to gasp for air. I felt weak. I gasped for God, for life! “I want to know You, God!” No one comes to the Father except through Me was the singular reply. “But I’m looking for God!”
Then it happened. The lights went out in my mind. Not one twinkling star in the black expanse of the universe – only utter darkness! Horror and great darkness fell upon me! Like a fish in a net, or deep in the dark hold of the icy bowels of a fisherman’s boat, I feebly gasped for air! “I want to know God!” My cry was very feeble now. Again the words of Jesus entered my mind: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Tears began to stream down my face when at last I realized who Jesus is. He is God! How stupid of me! I had seen it over and over in the Bible, yet it never really dawned on me until I was at the end of my tether. Jesus is my Saviour. He is my Lord and my God. As I sat in my armchair, I began to cling to Him for dear life. And it was only afterward that I recognized that He was the One who held me safely in His grip first. By His Spirit, working with His Word, the Father had revealed the Son to me. The Spirit enabled me to see the Father in the Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way to God. He is the Truth. He is objective truth – truth outside of me, outside of all men. And He is the Life – everlasting life. Jesus is Paradise. He is Noah’s Ark. He is Solomon’s Temple. He is Salvation.
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God [i.e., Jehovah Adonai] is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” (Hab. 3:17-19).
After my conversion I penned the following:
1) There came a Shepherd long ago,
Searching for His sheep.
He will not rest till all His flock
Is safely in His keep.
With open arms He calls to them.
His voice is soft yet clear.
And they come home to Him again.
The Shepherd loves them dear.
Good Shepherd I will heed Your call,
For this I must confess:
I cannot find my own way out
Of this darkened wilderness.
* Australian: Mining term; to rummage about in search of valuables.
What Reviewers are Saying!
From Mason to Minister – Through the Lattice is a captivating journey of courage through a world of secrets, soul-searching, and ultimate success. An intriguing and inspiring read from shadows to sunlight!
--William J. Federer, Best-selling author, nationally known speaker, and presents American Minute on radio and Internet at AmericanMinute.com President, Amerisearch Inc., St. Louis, Missouri.
By its very nature, Freemasonry is shrouded in mystery and cloaked in secrecy, which has led inevitably to much misunderstanding and misinformation. It is here Brother McKinlay’s book comes to the rescue. Neither an apologetic nor a polemic, it is the memoir of his conversion to Christ after his personal membership in Freemasonry, how he moved From Mason to Minister. His journey, seen Through the Lattice (Song of Solomon 2), is charming, engaging, informative, historical, and, most of all, Biblical. It is unique – as is typical of Nordskog Publishing – and answers some questions about a controversial subject. It is a book to be enjoyed.
--Dr. J. D. Watson, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Bible Church, Meeker, Colorado, Author of A Word for the Day and A Hebrew Word for the Day
"I view the book as a grouping of revelations, recollections, and reflections on the spiritual awakening in the author’s life."
I was born in Ontario, Canada when the leaves turned a beautiful red and gold in the fall. With mum and dad and my two older brothers we sailed across the Atlantic to my parent’s native Scotland when I was two. As my brother Stuart remembers it, “we sailed from the St. Lawrence in November 1958 in the bowels of the Royal Mail ship, Carinthia, taking a week to cross the winter Atlantic … We arrived off Greenock in a dense fog and taken ashore by tender – wow, despite the murky gloom we got a first sighting of a double-decker bus. We entrained for St. Enoch station in Glasgow where we were met by Aunt Pearl and Uncle George who took us to Miller Road in Haldane where we stayed for some months.”
I grew up in the Vale of Leven on the southern end of Loch Lomond. I left school at fifteen to work in a Glasgow shipyard but subsequently became an apprentice plumber in my home town of Alexandria. In 1977, just before my twenty-first birthday, I moved back to Toronto, Canada to work as a journeyman plumber.
On a trip back to Scotland I met Dorothy. We married in 1981 in Winnipeg, Manitoba where I worked as a railway pipefitter for Canadian National Railway. Our marriage produced three beautiful daughters who are now all grown up and married. It was after ten Manitoba winters that we pulled up stakes and moved to sunny Queensland where I studied to be a Presbyterian minister.
Ordained in 1998 I pastored congregations in Springsure and in Brisbane, with a five year stint in beautiful Tasmania. We have now settled back in Brisbane where I work part time as an Army Chaplain. The rest of my time is spent writing mostly theological items but I’m trying my hand at novel writing. I also write for a monthly Australian writer’s magazine called FreeXpresSion. I self-published a collection of these writings in a book titled The Song of Creation & Other Contemplations (ISBN 0-9757588-7-X).
I like strumming my guitar and writing songs, watching movies and reading good books. I openly admit to enjoying contemplating God’s creation, appreciating birds, bees, mountains, trees, good food and the occasional single malt. You can find my blog at: Snow Off the Ben.